Monday, June 26, 2017

Natural solutions to smelly house issues

No matter how much of a clean freak you tend to be, the stenches and odors of everyday life are unavoidable. But don't let that get you down — there's often an easy, homemade way to dispel stink from every area in your home.  

Here are 15 smelly issues that may occur in your home and solutions we've used or got from our customers over the years!

1. Stinky trash
Wash indoor and outdoor trash cans with hot soapy water to remove smelly bits and debris. Leave a couple of used fabric softener sheets in the bottom of your kitchen trash can and compactor to absorb odors.

2. A burnt-on food spill
If food from a casserole dish bubbles over onto the stove top or oven floor, sprinkle salt on the drips to absorb the burned smell (this will also make it easier to clean up later).

3. A musty freezer
Place a clean sock filled with dry coffee grounds inside to deodorize this pesky spot in your kitchen.

4. A smelly microwave
The awful stench of burnt popcorn seems to hang around forever, but it eventually disperses. To speed up the process, fill a large microwave-safe bowl with 1 1/2 cups water and three or four chopped lemons along with a fragrant spice, like cloves. Bring to a boil in the microwave, and then leave it to steam inside for 15 minutes (until the water cools down and can be removed safely). Leave the door ajar for an hour or so to air the microwave out.

5. A foul dishwasher
Check that the drain hose isn't crimped, and look in the bottom of the machine for bits of food and gunk. Then, pour a gallon of household vinegar in the bottom, let it sit for an hour or so, and run the washer through a full cycle. If the odor is still strong, call a plumber. It could potentially be a hazardous problem that needs to be remedied by a pro.

6. Rancid wooden cutting boards and counters
Scub the wood with a mixture of lemon juice and baking soda or salt. Rinse well and season with mineral oil.

7. A pungent kitchen
While cooking sharp-smelling items, like fish or cabbage, place a small bowl of white vinegar on the stove to absorb the odor. To stop offensive fridge smells, pour baking soda into a plastic margarine tub and poke holes in the lid; change as often as needed. Wipe down fridge walls with white vinegar to get rid of any lingering odors.

8. A sour-smelling garbage disposal
Freshen it by throwing in lemon or lime rinds while it's running, followed by lots of cold water.

9. The toilet
When this frequently used bathroom fixture needs deodorizing, pour 1 cup of household vinegar into the bowl and let it stand for at least 5 minutes. Scrub briskly and flush.

10. Not-so-fresh bathroom air
Dab essential oil (cinnamon or orange) onto cotton balls or clothespins, and place them in a small bowl on a shelf. 

11. Dingy carpeting
To quickly deodorize a smelly rug, sprinkle a box of baking soda over it, and let settle into the fibers for 30 minutes. Then, vacuum it up.

12. A musty mattress
Spray with a disinfectant like Lysol to kill the bacteria that causes odors. In between cleanings, sprinkle some baking soda onto the mattress, wait 15 minutes, and vacuum.

13. A dank basement
Open containers of activated charcoal (look for it at pet stores) absorb moisture, so they help fight mildew smells. If you find mold and mildew is a major problem, look into getting a dehumidifier.

14. A stale closet
Hanging clean socks filled with dry coffee grounds works here, too.

15. A smelly pet
Guests are about to arrive and you suddenly realize your pooch or kitty doesn't smell so pleasant. For a quick fix (until bath time), lightly sprinkle their fur with baking soda, rub it in, and then brush out.

If you're worried about anything and want a qualified expert to inspect your house and take samples then give us a call! We can walk through any issues and provide you with a comprehensive report. Contact Inspect it All today! 1-306-540-6832

Friday, June 23, 2017

Amateur Renovations Could Spell Disaster if Left Unchecked

Some of the most common problems a building inspector might find are the result of amateur renovations. When buying a property that has been renovated the first thing to determine is whether the renovations were done professionally or by an amateur. 

If the work was done with permits the vendor will likely provide proof by presenting the building permit or certificate of completion. City Hall also keeps records of all renovation or building permits and copies of these can be obtained.

Are all non-permitted renovations problematic?

Very often home renovations have been done by the home owner or an amateur contractor without a building permit. Non-permitted renovations mean that no municipal building code inspectors checked the work and some potential, and possibly significant, problems may exist. On the other hand, not all non-permitted renovations are sub-standard. Very often it is the same builders doing permitted and non-permitted work. As home inspectors we find that jobs done without permits tend to lead to short-cuts and these are often where problems originate.

What are the signs of amateur renovations?

Many people attempt electrical and plumbing work and these areas tend to show the most deficiencies. We commonly see:
  • improperly wired outlets,
  • missing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors,
  • missing GFCI (safety) outlets,
  • improperly wired kitchen counter outlets,
  • improper and unsafe wiring in the electrical panel
  • poor plumbing supply and drain line installation.

We also find:
  • Decks and additions that are inadequately framed or under-structured.
  • Insulation and other components inside walls that may not be installed properly.
  • Additions to the existing structure that are frequently a source of leaks and moisture problems.

The probability of building problems surfacing as a result of amateur renovations is much higher than for original built construction. A professional building inspector from a company like Inspect it All Home Inspections will scrutinize renovated areas for structural, electrical, plumbing, moisture and safety issues and help you to know whether the renovated property you are considering is a potential source of problems or of greater comfort, convenience and increased market-value when it comes time to sell.

Book an appointment with our Southern Saskatchewan home inspection team and we can determine whether the renovations were done professionally or not. Protect your investment!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The toxic threat of “Chinese drywall” to homes in Canada

While the risk of asbestos in home construction has been long recognized and action taken to stop it, a less well-known recent threat is the use of an extremely toxic drywall that was imported from China during the U.S. housing boom of 2004-2007 to satisfy the drywall shortage, and in response to natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. Many thousands of homes in the U.S. have been irreparably damaged by this substance, and the homeowners sickened, leading to extensive lawsuits.

Although there was no similar shortage in Canada, the defective drywall found its way into the country through Vancouver and has reportedly spread to the Prairies and eastward to Toronto. By 2009, many homeowners in British Columbia had reported illnesses linked to its use. The full extent of the toxic drywall crisis in Canada has yet to be revealed.

The effects of “Chinese drywall” are devastating

The devastating effects of this drywall are caused by the toxic sulphide gas it emits. When the gas comes into contact with household humidity, it gives off a noxious odour as it erodes any exposed copper or lead in the home, with the following effects:
  • scorched and blackened wiring behind wall plugs and switchplates
  • corroded coils on air conditioning units
  • malfunctioning of light fixtures and other electrical equipment
  • blackened wiring in cable televisions and converters
  • ruining of personal property such as jewelry and silverware
  • As well, affected homeowners may develop respiratory problems, eye irritation, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sore throat, and nosebleeds. Pets have died from exposure.
No repair is possible

Only a few sheets of the drywall can render homes unsafe and uninhabitable. The contaminated home cannot be repaired. The only possible recourse is to move out, gut the house, and rebuild the interior.

The drywall can be identified by the manufacturing label of KNAUF PLASTERBOARD TIANJIN (KPT). If it is discovered in your home, then promptly seek legal advice to ensure that your right to future financial compensation for your potential losses is protected.

If you are in the Southern Saskatchewan area, contact us to book a home inspection today!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The 6 Most Toxic Household Chemicals

Each year, Canadians spend millions of dollars on household cleaning products. Even though they are a common sight in homes and properties, most household cleaners and chemicals are dangerously toxic. To avoid serious accidents, any chemical product should be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions and stored safely, especially if there are children or pets living in the home. 

Here are a number of common household chemicals that can cause severe health problems:

1. Antifreeze

Swallowing antifreeze (ethylene glycol) may cause damage to the heart, brain, kidney and other internal organs. Inhaling antifreeze is not as dangerous, but may cause dizziness.

2. Bleach

Being a strong corrosive substance, bleach can affect the respiratory system if inhaled. Bleach can also irritate or burn the skin and eyes. Ingesting bleach can cause pulmonary edema or vomiting and coma. Wearing rubber gloves and a dust mask when using bleach is strongly recommended.

3. Drain Cleaners

These dangerous substances contain lye and other chemicals known to cause burns to the skin and eyes, and even blindness in severe cases. Swallowing a small amount of drain cleaner can severely affect the throat, stomach and may even cause death.

4. Carpet or Upholstery Cleaners

Carpet cleaners contain naphthalene, which are known to cause cataract formation and liver damage over long exposure. The perchloroethylene in carpet cleaners is carcinogenic, and it may cause dizziness, headaches, kidney dysfunction, neurological damage and other problems from short term exposure.

5. Ammonia

Ammonia produces fumes that can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. People suffering from asthma or heart or lung problems should avoid using ammonia. Mixing ammonia with chlorine products (such as bleach) produces an even more dangerous gas which is potentially fatal.

6. Air fresheners

Air fresheners are known to contain formaldehyde, a strong (possibly carcinogenic) substance that irritates the skin, eyes or throat. They contain other dangerous chemicals which may cause nervous system damage or pulmonary edema in sensitive individuals. Tips to safely keep indoor air fresh are available here.

These are just some of the more damaging household chemicals commonly found in homes. There are many other cleaners which contain potentially dangerous chemicals. To be on the safe side, homeowners should avoid purchasing products marked Danger or Poison on the label. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

How to Prevent and Remove Bathroom Mould

Inspect it All performs Mould Inspections in Southern
Saskatchewan. Contact us for more information

It’s a well-known fact that mould tends to grow in homes and especially in the bathroom. The damp and low-light conditions in the bathroom allows mould to thrive if these conditions remain the same. The good news is that controlling the moisture in the bathroom and cleaning it frequently will greatly reduce mould growth. Below are several key tips for preventing and removing bathroom mould.

How to prevent mould:

  • Keeping the humidity levels below 55%. Since mould thrives in moist conditions, it’s important to keep humidity under control.
  • Ventilating the bathroom after a shower or bath by turning on a fan or by using the bathroom exhaust fan. Opening a window also helps let steam out.
  • Drying wet surfaces, such as mirror, tiles, glass and walls, using a towel or squeegee, after every shower or bath.
  • Cleaning the bathroom surfaces and items (such as the floor, ceiling and rugs) with an anti-fungal solution and/or detergent at least once a month.
  • Spraying undiluted vinegar on the bath and shower once a month to prevent mould growth and remove odours.
  • Using a mould-resistant shower curtain, as well as washing the curtain routinely, at least once a month.
  • Removing objects, such as shampoo bottles, toys, or mugs from the shower. Moisture collected on these objects will provide a place for mould to grow.
  • Removing unnecessary items from the bathroom to minimize the number of wet surfaces where mould can grow.

How to remove mould:

  • Cleaning mould from grout requires a scrubbing brush and a cleaning product or a commercial grout cleaner. Borax, ammonia or baking soda can be used as grout cleaning alternatives, but also for cleaning tiles and drywall.
  • Mould should be checked in these hidden areas: behind pipes, under the sink and behind the toilet, under the washing machine, etc. Those who clean mould should wear gloves and a mask when cleaning to reduce health risks.
  • The bathroom drain is another place where mould can grow. To clean mould from the drain, the grate should be removed first, and then the mould in the drain pipe can be scrubbed off. Pouring drain cleaner or another mould inhibiting product into the drain also helps kill the mould.
  • In situations where mould hides behind walls, it’s best to call a mould remediation company to get rid of it professionally. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tips to Prevent Air Conditioning Water Damage

Air conditioning units are prone to water leaks and, consequently, water damage. The good news is that performing several maintenance tasks periodically can help to greatly reduce the risk of water damage. 

Here are the most common causes for A/C leaks with tips on how to fix and prevent them without professional help:

The drain line is clogged 

The drain line is a pipe which collects the condensed water that the A/C unit has produced and transports it outside the house. Sometimes, the drain line gets clogged with algae, dirt, mineral deposits and even mould or mildew, causing water to overflow into the home. 
  • If the drain pipes are clogged, a wet-dry vacuum can be used to suck out the water and debris from the outdoor drain pipe. 
  • To prevent drain lines from clogging, a mix of half warm water, half bleach should be poured into the pipe once every 4 to 6 months.
  • Installing an overflow shut off device on the drain line should be considered. The device automatically turns off the A/C unit if the drain line backs up.

The overflow drain pan is damaged 

The drain pan collects any water that has overflowed due to a clogged drain line. Over time, drain pans made of metal or plastic may get damaged, resulting in leaks and water damage. 
  • If there are leaks near the drain pan, it should be inspected for damage using a flashlight.
  • Small holes or cracks should be patched up using epoxy glue or replaced entirely.

The air filter is dirty 

Air filters should be replaced once every 1 to 2 months (every month during the cooling season); failing to do so will restrict the airflow to the evaporator’s coils. Consequently, water can freeze on the coils and, when it melts, it will drip water. The filters must be changed periodically to prevent water leaks.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Tips for Proper Home Ventilation

Proper air circulation in a home raises its comfort level substantially and provides a healthier indoor environment. Any form of ventilation, whether it’s opening a window or turning on the ceiling fans, reduces indoor pollutants and maintains the desired levels of humidity and temperature. 

Below are a few ideas for proper home ventilation:

Windows should be opened in the bathroom when using the shower, in the kitchen when cooking, and in rooms where clothes are hanging out to dry. The doors should be kept closed in these areas to prevent air from escaping. During summer, it’s a good idea to open the windows in the mornings and evenings.

When not cooking or using the shower, internal doors should be kept open. This allows for airborne particles to circulate freely, maintaining the same level or air quality in the home. In addition, the doors to closets or wardrobes should be kept shut to prevent air from being trapped in a confined space.

Using ceiling fans (clockwise or counter clockwise) helps reduce central heating consumption. A counter clockwise direction in the summer will provide a cold breeze in the room. A clockwise direction in the winter will blow the warm air from the ceiling downward.

HVAC air filters ought to be changed regularly. Air filters prevent pollutants and debris from entering HVAC systems. Depending on the type of air filter and how often the HVAC system is used, the air filters should be changed once per month or less frequently.

Bathrooms, kitchens and clothes dryers must be vented directly outdoors, to prevent water damage, mould and other problems. The vents should not blowing air in enclosed spaces, such as the attic or crawlspace.

Natural ventilation around the home can be considered:

Planting grass and plants, which absorb less heat, on the home’s surroundings.
Installing structures such as a pool or fountain in the garden / yard to cool off the air before it enters the home.

Creating earth mounds in the yard to increase air circulation.

Property owners who are planning to remodel their home can consider installing high windows, air deflectors (overhangs), clerestories and transitional spaces like balconies or courts.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Safety tips for backyard fires

When hosting outdoor parties in the backyard, safety should be the top priority, especially when using open flames for lighting or ambiance. Fire sources such as candles, portable outdoor fireplaces, sky lanterns, patio (tiki) torches and fire pits can start a fire if they’re not used carefully. 

Here are some practical tips to prevent fires during outdoor parties:

  • If there are children and pets at the party, they should always be supervised and kept at least 1 meter away from open flames.
  • If the scene is decorated with burning candles, they must be kept in sturdy candle holders to help prevent candles from being tipped over.
  • More than half of all candle fires start when objects that can burn are too close to candles. Flammable objects should be kept far away from candles and any other open flame.
  • We strongly recommend using battery-operated flameless candles and patio torches instead of their more dangerous, open-flame counterparts.
  • An adult must always supervise portable fireplaces that are burning. Only ethanol fuel made specifically for portable fireplaces should ever be used. More portable fireplace safety tips can be found here.
  • Campfires must be made in fire pits to help prevent fire from spreading. A responsible adult should always supervise the campfire and a water source should be kept handy.
  • Barbeque grills must be positioned at least 3 metres away from structures. The lid must be open when turning on a gas grill. 
  • Bonfires also present safety hazards during outdoor parties. Gas or other flammable liquids should never be used for building or maintaining a bonfire to prevent accidental fires or burn-related injuries.Water should be kept nearby in case of an accidental fire.


    Thursday, June 1, 2017

    Protect your basement from a flood this spring

    It’s never too late to take some extra measures to protect your home, especially those who reside in flood-prone areas. If this is your first spring in a new home, ask around the neighbourhood to find out if the area has ever had issues with flooding during heavy spring rainfalls.

    Occasionally, improper home maintenance may be the culprit in a basement flood, so take the proper steps to prevent an expensive mess in your home!

    The first place to start is with your roof and eavestroughs. Take a look at your home’s system and make sure things are functioning as they should. Gutters should be free of debris and correctly connected to downspouts to ensure that water is efficiently flowing from the roof. Also ensure that downspouts are carrying water far enough away from your home (about two metres is a good rule of thumb) and depositing it on a surface that slopes away from your foundation.

    Check the storm sewers on the street near your home, clearing them of any debris.

    If you have a sump pump, ensure that it is in good working order. Consider purchasing a generator, which will keep your pump working in the event of a power outage.

    If you do end up with a flooded basement this spring, stay safe and prevent greater damage. Don’t run water or flush toilets if your basement drains are plugged, turn off any electrical circuits that are in danger of coming into contact with moisture and try to remove water as quickly as possible to prevent major mold damage.

    In addition, if you have children at home, be sure to talk to them about the dangers of flash flooding. Intense rainfalls – over 50mm of rain in a few hours time – can cause extremely hazardous conditions near rivers, creeks and low-lying areas very quickly. Warn children to keep their distance.